Food regulator FSSAI is conducting a comprehensive scientific study of non-sugar sweeteners and aspartame on the basis of insights pertaining to the country’s population, an official said on Thursday.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Advisor Harinder Oberoi also said that a panel is already working to decide the “threshold limit” for sugar, salt and fat permissible.
About the labelling and standardising of food products, he said a panel is deliberating on the steps to be taken in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“WHO has come out with one policy paper saying that sweeteners linked to weight management is linked to cancer and the second (that), non-sugar sweetener aspartame can cause cancers,” he said.
In this regard, FSSAI has panels which are discussing the steps to be taken by the government.
“These studies have to be done comprehensively before coming to any conclusion,” he noted.
Instead of going with foreign data, he said, FSSAI is working with India-based insights.
“That is what we are looking at from the Indian perspective. We really do not have to go to what the world says. A lot of recommendations keep coming out but when we look at the Indian perspective, we look at the Indian population,” he said.
Artificial sweetener aspartame has come under scanner after reports surfaced that WHO is gearing up to declare it as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ in July. It is used by the beverage industry in producing low-sugar products.
According to Oberoi, the standards set in India are stricter than any other country.
“That is because we have done risk assessment studies based on the Indian population. In India, we will set our own standards based on what India feels good and what our scientists feel pertinent for the society.
“We are working on what the Indian population looks like, what would the effect of consuming aspartame. We will take Indian data into consideration before we set our standards,” he said, adding that things are done in a much more transparent way.
Regarding carbonated beverage and non-carbonated beverage, FSSAI will take the views of stakeholders before deciding on any guidelines.